Abbildungen der Seite
PDF

another way—I sought materials of compensation in another hemisphere. Contemplating Spain, such as our ancestors had known her, I resolved that if France had Spain, it should not be Spain 'with the Indies.' I called the New World into existence, to redress the balance of the Old.

"Once more I declare, that the object of the address, which I propose is not war: its object is to take the last chance of peace. If you do not go forth, on this occasion to the aid of Portugal, Portugal will be trampled down, to your irretrievable disgrace: —and then will come war in the train of national degradation. If, under circumstances like these, you wait till Spain has matured her secret machinations into open hostility, you will in a little while have the sort of war required by the pacificators :—and who shall say where that war will end?"

The Amendment was put and negatived, there appearing only three or four supporters for Mr. Hume's proposition. The original question was then put and carried, with only the same number of dissentients.

On the same night, in the House of Lords, a similar address was moved by lord Bathurst, and seconded by lord Holland. The duke of Wellington spoke next; beginning by expressing a hope that it would be permitted to him, who for many years had had the direction of the resources of both the countries which formed the subject of discussion, against the common enemy, to lament that any necessity should arise for our interference between them. He also hoped, that the measures which called for our interference, were more to be attributed to the per

fidious conduct of the servants of the king of Spain, to the captainsgeneral of provinces, and to inferior ministers, than to his Catholic majesty. Whether, however, they proceeded from the one or the other, he could not possibly see bodies of troops on both sides of the Douro, and on the south of the Tagus and the Guadiana, at the same time, all armed by the Spanish authorities, without immediately perceiving that there must be a concurrence of the Spanish government. Under the circumstances, therefore, of this preconcerted invasion of the Portuguese territory, he was of opinion, that the casus foederis did clearly exist. War, however, might still be prevented; and he hoped for the cordial assistance of France, by negotiations, in preventing the breaking out of hostilities, in bringing his Catholic majesty to a just sense of his own danger, to a proper feeling of what was due both to his dignity and his interest, and to the obligations of good faith.

Lord Lansdowne also declared his full approbation of the proposed measure; and the address was carried without a dissentient voice.

The unanimity which prevailed in parliament on this decisive measure, was not more perfect than was the universal concurrence of sentiment regarding it, which existed throughout the country. The reasons on which it was founded, and the promptitude with which it had been adopted, inspired confidence; the ardour, the manliness, the deep tone of generous feeling with which it had been defended, excited esteem and admiration. Never were a government and its subjects in more complete unison. The activity of the public offices

[graphic]

kept pace with the wishes of both; nWms on the 12th of December,

an armament consisting of five and on Christmas day, the ship,

thousand men, under the command which carried the first detachment

■of sir William Clinton, was equip- of the British army, cast anchor in

ped in an almost incredibly short the waters of the Tagus.

space of time. Even the winds of On the 13th of December, the

heaven seemed to favour the en- House adjourned till the 8th of

terprise. Mr. Canning pronounced February, his speech in the House of Com*.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

CHAP. VIII.

India—Re-commencement of Hostilities with the Burmese—Military Operations in the neighbourhood of PromeBritish Army advances to MellooneConferences and Terms of Peace acceptedThe Treaty not being ratified, the Army takes Melloone—The Army advances to Pagahm-mervBattle there—A Treaty concluded and ratified—Siege and Capture of Bhurtpore by Lord Combermere—AfricaDefeat of the Ashantees.

THE armistice which had heen concluded on the 17th September, 1825, between the British and Burmese commanders, was not employed by the court of Ava in any serious negotiations for peace, but in collecting forces for a vigorous prosecution of the war. By the second article of the amnesty it had been agreed that a commissioner from Ava, with full powers, should meet the British authorities, on the 2nd of October, half way between Prome and Meaday, the stations of the respective armies, to treat of the re-establishment of peace. These conferences took place on the plain of Neounben-zeik, the negotiators on each side being accompanied by a train of five hundred men, as the dignity of the prime minister of Ava did not allow him to move with a smaller retinue. The Burmese commissioners displayed ostensibly the most amicable dispositions; were anxious in their inquiries after the health of his majesty of England, and the latest news; uniformly spoke of Britain and Ava, as the "two great and civilized nations," and scrupulously avoided every thing which might be construed into an acknowledgment of inferiority. They endea-.

voured to exculpate their monarch from any blame on account of the hostile acts committed in Arracan, which had led to the war, by assurances that they had been committed without his authority or consent, and that the remonstrances of the Indian government had been kept from his knowledge. In the terms of peace which were proposed, they quarrelled principally with the demands for a cession of part of their territory, and an indemnification in money for the expenses of the war, and laboured hard to have them withdrawn, at least in the mean time, gravely holding out such considerations as this, that the dignity of the king of Ava did not allow him to submit to terms imposed upon him by a present force, but that, so soon as the Indian government should have withdrawn their army from the country, there was nothing which his generosity would not concede to them. Being unable to obtain any modification of the terms, they desired, and obtained, an extension of the armistice for twenty days, that they might have time to transmit them to Ava, and receive new instructions. The extension of the armistice, although proposed by the enemy merely to gain time, was no sacrifice on the part of the British commander; for the season and the state of the country would not have permitted him to take the field at an earlier period.

On receiving the proposed terms of peace, his majesty of the Golden Foot broke out into the most intemperate bursts of impotent passion, and gave orders to his generals immediately to renew offensive operations. His vigorous preparations had again collected in the neighbourhood of Meaday, an army of between 50,000 and 60,000 men. He had sent down from Ava, a veteran leader of great experience, Maha Nemiow, who was to introduce a new mode of conducting the war, and had attached to his army a body of eight thousand Shans, a species of force bearing a high character for gallantry, and who had not yet met a British army in the field. Along with them were three young women of high rank who were believed, by their superstitious countrymen, to be not only endowed with the gift of prophecy, but to possess the miraculous faculty of turning aside balls and bullets or rendering them innoxious. Confident hi their strength, and urged by the threatening mandates of their monarch, the Burmese chiefs had no scruples of delicacy in violating the truce. Scarcely had they departed from the place of conference at Neoun-ben-zeik, when numerous irruptions were made by predatory bands from their army, transgressing the line of demarcation laid down in the armistice, laying waste the country almost to the walls of Prome, interrupting the supplies of the army, ascending the river, and threatening, and plainly intended,

to cut off the communication with Rangoon. When remonstrances were made to the Burmese commanders, they with their usual disregard of truth, denied all knowledge of these marauding expeditions, although it was proved by the prisoners taken, that they were acting directly under orders from head-quarters. At length, when the armistice had nearly expired, the thin mask was taken off, and the following haughty and laconic answer was returned to the proposals of peace made at Neounben-zeik: "If you wish for peace, you may go away; but if you wish either money or territory, no friendship can exist between us. This is Burman custom."

The whole army of Ava, nearly sixty thousand strong, immediately advanced along the banks of the Irrawaddy against Prome, and the six thousand British and native Indian troops by whom it was occupied. It was divided into three bodies, which moved parallel to each other, but were dispersed with so little tactical skill, that insuperable physical obstacles prevented any one of them from supporting any other, all being thus exposed to the imminent danger of being destroyed in detail. The right division, consisting of fifteen thousand men, under the command of Sudda Woon, moved along the right or western bank of the river. On the opposite bank, separated by the whole breadth of the Irrawaddy, advanced the centre, consisting of between twenty-five thousand and thirty thousand men, headed by the Kee Wonghee in person, and escorted by a considerable armament of war boats. Maha Nemiow himself took the command of the left division,

[graphic]
[graphic]
« ZurückWeiter »